Stewart-Haas quartet solid top-eight in Texas but feelings mixed

Image by Thacker/LAT

Stewart-Haas quartet solid top-eight in Texas but feelings mixed

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Stewart-Haas quartet solid top-eight in Texas but feelings mixed

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All four Stewart-Haas Racing cars finished in the top 10 Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, but there was not happiness across the board.

Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez (photo above) were the best of the bunch. Both earned their season-best results with second- and third-place finishes, respectively.

For Bowyer, it was a nice end to a weekend that started with him fuming about qualifying.

Suarez, meanwhile, showed potential in challenging for the race lead at one point.

“I’m happy,” said Suarez. “The entire weekend was strong for us. We had the speed all weekend long. I feel like we had for sure a top-five car and at times probably the best car out there on the long run. We were just trying to find the right balance back and forth, but I’m just very proud of everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing and Ford Performance — and especially for the No. 41 guys. They worked extremely hard to bring a good piece to Texas, and we did it, so I’m grateful.”

Aric Almirola extended his top-10 streak to six consecutive races with a seventh-place result. He did so while being under the weather, saying he didn’t sleep at all Saturday night as he was sick to his stomach.

“I’m just really hungry, and I’m really tired,” said Almirola after the race. “We don’t get to call in sick. That’s the challenging part of our job occasionally. The flu or a cold or stomach bug pops up, and you’ve got to fight through it.

Almirola was sick and spent a sleepless Saturday night, but finished a solid seventh in Sunday’s 500-miler. Image by Jarrett/LAT

“But I’m really proud of everybody on our Smithfield Prime Fresh Ford Mustang. We had a good car and track position here, and strategy and pit stops and stuff, and we got out of here with a top 10, so that’s six in a row. I’m proud of that.”

Bringing up the rear of the SHR group was Kevin Harvick, who finished eighth.

Harvick has spent the last few weeks saying that SHR has had decent cars but not race-winning cars. With an early west coast swing and a new rules package in play that saw many teams, not just Stewart-Haas, running cars that were built early in the year, Harvick and his teammates were optimistic things would change for the better once they’d begun implementing all that they learned.

Eighth at the end and now third in the points, but Harvick called Texas a disaster. Image by LaBounty/LAT

But he told reporters after Texas: “Our day was a disaster. Our car drove terrible and that pretty much sums it up.”

Asked where he thought his team was now, he said, “We’re further off than we were last week.”

How far off? “We’ve haven’t been close to a race-winning car in a race yet.”

What does Harvick attribute that to?

“I just drive.”

Two of the four SHR cars now are in the top 10 in Cup Series points, with Harvick, who had three wins at this point last season, sitting third and Almirola fifth.

Bowyer is 11th in the standings and Suarez 14th.

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